Throwback: When Comair Flew ATR Turboprops

Comair is a South African airline that operates various routes as a British Airways franchisee. Based out of…

Throwback: When Comair Flew ATR Turboprops

Comair is a South African airline that operates various routes as a British Airways franchisee. Based out of Johannesburg, the airline also flies low-cost services under the Kulula brand. Its current fleet consists entirely of narrowbody jet aircraft, but this wasn’t always the case. Indeed, it has also flown a handful of French-Italian ATR turboprops over the years.

It has been more than 37 years since the ATR 42 series first took to the skies. Photo: ATR

Two ATR 42s

According to data from, Comair has operated a total of three ATR turboprops. Two of these were examples of the French-Italian manufacturer’s original ATR 42 series, which flew for the South African carrier in the mid to late 1990s. It acquired both of these 1992-built aircraft from Airlink in April 1995. Their registrations were ZS-NGF and ZS-NKW.

Both of these aircraft also left Comair at the same time, specifically in October 1997. Their tenure at the carrier lasted just two and a half years. The remainder of their service lives also panned out in a similar manner. Having returned to ATR, they re-entered active commercial service with Brazilian carrier Passaredo Linhas Aéreas in 1998 and 1999.

By the end of the decade, they had moved on once again, and began the new millennium at Venezuela‘s Santa Bárbara Airlines, known in short as SBA. This is where they saw out the end of their careers, eventually entering storage in Caracas in 2011.

SBA Airlines ATR 42
Both of Comair’s ATR 42s ended their careers with SBA Airlines in 2011. Photo: Aero Icarus via Flickr

A single ATR 72

Following an extensive hiatus, Comair resumed ATR turboprop operations approximately 10 years ago. Ironically enough, its third and final ATR plane, a larger 72-200 model, arrived at the airline at around the same time that its first two ATR 42s were placed into storage.

Registered as ZS-CXB, Comair’s only ATR 72 joined the South African British Airways franchisee in May 2011. Built in 1995, it had begun its career in New Zealand with Mount Cook Airlines, before flying for the likes of Delta Connection and Precision Air.

Its spell at Comair was a relatively short one, lasting just nine months until it left again in February 2012. It stayed in Africa after this, joining Senegal Airlines the following month. It remains active today, flying for Solenta Aviation Gabon as a freighter. shows that its last flight took place on August 20th, when it traveled to Johannesburg.

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Comair’s fleet today

The present-day Comair fleet is very uniform, and free of turboprops such as the ATR 42 and 72 series. According to data from, the South African BA franchisee has a 24-plane fleet consisting entirely of Boeing 737s. Of these, 19 are examples of the 737-800.

Comair also flies four 737-400s, although just one is currently active. These aging aircraft can’t have long left, given that their average age is 29.8 years old. As such, Comair’s future rests on the shoulders of the 737 MAX 8. It presently has one of these next-generation narrowbodies in its fleet, although this too is inactive. A further six MAX 8s are on order.

Did you know that Comair used to fly ATR turboprop aircraft? Perhaps you even flew on one yourself? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments!

Source : Simple Flying More   

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Air Canada Reportedly Eyeing December Australia Return

Air Canada plans to resume flights between Vancouver and Sydney in mid-December. The announcement comes hot on the…

Air Canada Reportedly Eyeing December Australia Return

Air Canada plans to resume flights between Vancouver and Sydney in mid-December. The announcement comes hot on the heels of Qantas saying it intends to resume flying the route before Christmas.

Air Canada plans to resume flights to Sydney in mid-December. Photo: Air Canada

Four flights a week to Sydney from mid-December

As reported in Executive Traveller on Tuesday, an Air Canada Boeing 777-200LR jet will take flight between the two cities four times a week from December 17. Before the travel downturn, Air Canada operated year-round flights to Sydney while Qantas operated seasonal services to Vancouver.

In 2019, the last year of normal airline traffic, two-way passenger traffic between Canada and Australia totaled 423,504. In the same year, Air Canada and Qantas operated 1,874 passenger flights between the two countries.

After a strong start to 2020, traffic collapsed in March. Across 2020, two-way passenger traffic between Canada and Australia amounted to 111,035. Available passenger flights in 2020 totaled 482.

Air Canada will use Boeing 777-200LR aircraft for its Sydney flights. Photo: Air Canada

Air Canada will send their Boeing 777-200LRs down to Sydney

In March 2020, Qantas ceased flying to Canada along with most of its overseas destinations. Air Canada paused its Australia flights in April 2020. Now, after a year and a half away, Air Canada’s flights to Sydney are back in the timetables and available for sale.

Starting Friday, December 17, Air Canada flight AC033 will depart Vancouver (YVR) at 22:30 every Friday, Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday. After 15 plus hours in the sky, the Boeing 777-200LR lands in Sydney (SYD) at 09:05 two days later.

The return flight to Vancouver will leave Sydney every Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday from December 19. AC034 will push back at 11:45 and, owing to the magic of the international dateline, touch down in Vancouver at 07:00 on the same day.

Air Canada’s 777-200LR seat 300 passengers. That includes 236 passengers in the main cabin in a predominantly 3-4-3 layout (there are some 2-4-2 configured rows down the back of the plane). Midway along the plane, a small premium economy cabin seats 24 passengers in a 2-4-2 layout. Towards the front of the Boeing is the business class cabin. Forty lie-flat seats, or “open suites,” come in a 1-2-1 layout.

Air Canada’s long-haul premium economy cabin. Photo: Air Canada

Only vaccinated travelers welcome onboard

Air Canada retains six Boeing 777-200LR planes, all aged 13 plus years. The airline’s decision to use this aircraft type on a long-haul flight rather than the new 787 Dreamliner is raising some eyebrows. Not everyone is a fan of the plane. But 15 hours on a Dreamliner is nothing to write home about either, especially if flying in the main cabin.

However, with two airlines planning to fly between Vancouver and Sydney (Qantas plans to fly three times a week on the route from December 18 using Boeing 787-9 aircraft), passengers will at least have a choice.

There will also be some similarities between the two airlines. Neither Air Canada nor Qantas will board unvaccinated passengers on their international flights. Earlier this month, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed only fully vaccinated travelers could enter Canada. Passengers will also need evidence of a negative COVID-19 test taken with 72 hours of traveling.

Australia is still sorting out its border rules and a re-opening date, but Qantas has already confirmed it will not fly unvaccinated passengers on its international flights. There is now a widespread expectation Australia will begin relaxing its travel bans for vaccinated travelers as soon as November.

Both Air Canada and Qantas are betting on this happening. After an 18 month hiatus on the route, resuming flights would be a welcome Christmas present for both airlines.

Source : Simple Flying More   

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